Rachmaninoff Versus Editor – Who is Right? It was the early 1920’s. My piano teacher took an audition to study piano with Sergei Rachmaninoff. The gist of the audition was this: Rachmaninoff was too busy giving concerts and composing to take on any students. But, he gave my piano instructor, Mischa Kottler, a letter of recommendation. The letter was addressed to Alfred Cortôt. Who was Alfred Cortôt? Alfred Denis Cortôt (born Nyon, 26 September 1877; died Lausanne, 15 June 1962) was a French–Swisspianist and conductor. He is one of the most famous 20th century musicians. He was especially known for his playing of piano music by 19th centuryRomantic composers such as Chopin and Schumann. He formed a piano trio with the violinistJacques Thibaud and the cellistPablo Casals. Now back to Rachmaninoff versus Editor.
For Mischa Kottler’s audition, he played Rachmaninoff’s 3rd piano concerto for the composer. Sergei told Mischa after he finished: “That’s not how the editor marked the phrasing in the music!” Mischa told me at one of my piano lessons that he replied to Sergei:”I know. But I heard you play the concerto in concert. You did it the way I played it for you!”
Rachmaninoff Versus Editor …. The Composer Wins and so Does Mischa Kottler
Rachmaninoff was so impressed, he wrote the letter. Mischa studied with Cortôt in Paris. Then he went to Vienna and studied with Emil von Sauer. That launched him on a successful piano career. He consequently became the official pianist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mischa headed the piano department at Wayne State University. I took lessons with him for 5 years at WSU. He taught about 50 piano students with full one hour lessons. He was the music director of WJR in Detroit. He raised many successful students. Now I (blogger David Ohrenstein) am offering piano lessons in Sarasota, Fl. From Dec. 20- April 1 2017. I will play in Boca Grande, Fl. This will be at the Gasparilla Inn. Their vintage Steinway Grand was just rebuilt for me. Larry Keckler rebuilt it with new Steinway parts direct from Germany. Hope to see you there!
Changing Music Indicates Changing Times. Welsh music, as recorded in the Welsh Triads, adjusted its music to changing times. Here’s how. In ancient England, changes were foreshadowed by “perpetual choirs.”
How did I discover this? My source is City of Revelaton by the Reverend John Michell. The Welsh Triads are verses of great antiquity. They were written by “prehistoric bardic historians.” Unique choirs are mentioned:
One at the now existing site of Glastonbury Abbey.
Another operated at the site at which Stonehenge now exists.
A third was at Llantwit Major at Glamzorgan.
2,400 saints worked each site. Each kept a perpetual chant going. Each of the 24 hours of the day, at each site, occupied 100 saints with singing.
As the Times Varied, Changing Music Marked Their Song
The character of time changes with the seasons. As light can change by the hour, so could their song. Another aspect of song was planetary. The school of Pythagoras believed that each planet had its own pitch. As their distances from each other changed, so did the music.
We are currently living through times of great change. Music that heralds beautiful melody will lead the way. In all aspects, people will buy what is beautiful. I was taught to play with beautiful tone. Play well-formed two-note phrases are key. Also, how to emphasize the note that is tied over the measure. My instructor was Mischa Kottler.
In looking to this beautiful past, I am helping to lead the way to the future. We all need beautiful things in our lives. When times are difficult, all need the beautiful in art, poetry and music. To this end, I am working full time this year. I will be playing piano from Christmas to Easter. This will be six days weekly. The location is at the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande.
Until Christmas, I am working to bring musical beauty back at the Crab and Fin Restaurant on Saint Armand’s Circle. I play three days weekly. Call for specifics. Wear something comfortable, but beautiful. Enjoy a tasty and well-presented meal while dining outdoors to my piano music.
Liszt Tempos are too Fast According to von Sauer. Emil Georg Conrad von Sauer (8 October 1862 – 27 April 1942) was a notable Germancomposer, pianist, score editor, and music (piano) teacher. He was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Also, he one of the most distinguished pianists of his generation. Josef Hofmann called von Sauer “a truly great virtuoso.”Martin Krause, another Liszt pupil, called von Sauer “the legitimate heir of Liszt. He has more of his charm and geniality than any other Liszt pupil.”
Emil von Sauer (1902)
Proof of the Liszt Tempos
So how is it that I know what Sauer said about Liszt’s music? From my own teacher, Mischa Kottler. He publicly made the statement in an interview for the Detroit Free Press/Sunday April 10, 1983. The featured picture is from the interview. I’ve saved the Sunday magazine section all these years. The article was written by John Guinn/photos by Patricia Beck. John Guinn was the Free Press music critic. Patricia Beck was a staff photographer. To make my point, I will quote a couple of sections:
“Kottler studied with Cortot in Paris, and then went to Vienna where he ended up studying with Emil von Sauer. Sauer had studied with Franz Liszt in Weimar in 1884-85. Liszt was a pupil of Carl Czerny, who studied three years with Beethoven himself.” Incidentally many of the techniques I learned from Mischa came from Beethoven. Reputedly, Beethoven invented the “prepared thumb” technique. I in turn pass this knowledge on to my own Sarasota piano students.
This is a direct quote from the interview: “Sauer told me everybody plays Liszt’s music too fast,” Kottler said. “there’s no reason to do that,” Sauer insisted-“Liszt didn’t.”
So where can you hear me play Liszt tempos not too fast? At the Crab and Fin Restaurant in Sarasota, Florida.
“I’d say that overall, it’s a great place to have lunch or dinner if your around Saint Armands or Lido Beach.” in 35 reviews. After a 20 year absence from the piano scene in Sarasota, David Ohrenstein returns. Over that time he has been a regular in the Catskill Mountains of New York and at the world famous Gasparilla Inn on the isle of Boca Grande. Now he entertains at the Crab and Fin Restaurant three days weekly: Monday evening from 6-10pm; Tuesday from 12:30 to 5 :30 p.m. Wednesday also from 12:30 to 5:30 PM. You can enjoy lunch, dinner or simply purchase a beverage and listen to my piano playing at this beautiful outdoor setting.
I was also an arranger/accompanist for Rubinoff an His Violin. So I also play popular music beautifully.Rubinoff was the conductor and violin soloist of the orchestra at the Paramount Theater in New York and of Paramount pictures in Hollywood. When he conducted the Chicago Philharmonic in 1937, he played for 225,000 people. In addition, they turned away 25,000 people at the door. Hope to see you on St Armands Circle in Sarasota, Fl – David. I play outdoors so check the weather. You could call me a “fair weather pianist.”
Revival of J.S. Bach by the Romantics Will Re-occur once more. A new era comes in opposition to an old. Such was the newer classical era to the baroque. The counterpoint of the baroque was replaced by melody-accompaniment of the classical era. Time passes. The next era sought to revive the baroque. J.S. Bach culminated the baroque era. He was the idol of the newer Romantics. The Romantic era lasted approx. 1820-1920. Off course, there are always cross currents in any era. These can be called, “avant- garde.” Almost every Romantic composer had a relationship to the music of Bach.
Here is a key and interesting fact: BACH, the name was taken by romantics as 4 musical tones: They were b,a,c, and “h” (which was thought of as Bb). They place these tones into their music.
Specific Baroque Revival Techniques of the Romantics
J.S. Bach was uprooted from the church. He was transplanted in the concert hall.
Only Berlioz and a few other composers were not influenced by Bach. He used counterpoint for parody purposes. This is found in his “Amen Fugue”. The Fugue is in the 2nd part of his The Damnation of Faust.
Felix Mendelssohn wrote Six Preludes and Fugues in 1837.
Schumann wrote a cycle of 6 fugues on the name BACH for organ
Franz Liszt wrote a Prelude and Fugue on BACH for organ in 1855.
Brahms used counterpoint in a more subtle way. He would hide the melody among other tones. My piano teacher, Mischa Kottler, studied under Emil von Sauer. Sauer edited the complete works of Brahms. He insisted that I use the von Sauer editions of Brahms. What is most interesting is: Kottler circled every note that Brahms wished for counterpoint. Without his guidance, I never would have found them. Kottler has a few youtube recordings. Hear for yourself what an amazing virtuoso Kottler was. In my off season I am offering piano lessons in Sarasota. Be amazed by Mischa’s “Minute”.
Phrases: How the Romantic Pianists Played Two Note Phrases. Two note phrases have an easy ring. After all, it’s just two notes. But easy, it isn’t. Often learning to apply the technique in practice can take a full year. That’s why I’ve provided this tutorial entitled “The Paris Piano Connection.” It contains seven essential piano techniques. All examples are excerpts from my own compositions. The music was created just for this purpose. A full manuscript of music will be available shortly as a product on DSOworks.com. The reason for the title: My instructor studied in Paris in the 1920’s under Alfred Cortot.
For the blogs, I present the techniques in distinct 7 sections. Then I feature them together in one number that I call, Twilight in A minor. This particular number I later lengthened. It is now featured as “Moonlight on the Lake:” See my numerous thumbnails on DSO.com. All presentations there are free. Each one has a full realization in the actual music. They will be available for purchase in the future. In the complete youtube video, I play 7 sections. Different techniques follow in the “two note phrases” youtube”. However, the technique in consideration is less than a minute. That’s all you need to watch. Each technique will eventually have its own blog. I offer piano lessons in Sarasota.
My Piano Technique and the Voluptuous Two Note Phrases Have Been Enjoyed At the Gasparilla Inn for the 7th Straight Year
The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. I play for United States Presidents and heads of state in the winter season at the Gasparilla Inn on the isle Boca Grande. I’ve just completed my 7th year. My instructor, Mischa Kottler, prepared me for a life time career. He studied in Paris in the 1920’s. That is the reason for the Paris Piano Connection. Then he went on to study with Emil von Sauer in Austria. Sauer edited all of Brahms’s piano music. He also was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Mischa Kottler soloed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra well into his nineties. On you tube, you can hear him play Chopin’s Minute Waltz like nobody can: He plays it with double notes!
In My Set of 7 Etudes Entitled the Paris Piano Connection, I Demonstrate Classical Two Note Phrases